Joaquin “Tony” Gonzalez Sr., a tire industry veteran who began his career in his native Cuba and continued it for decades after he moved to the U.S. in 1962, has died. He was 80.
Gonzalez was born in San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba, on Aug. 16, 1943. His family had been an established Goodyear distributor across Cuba since 1942. Exiled from his birthplace, he found work at the General Motors assembly plant in North Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow), N.Y., and worked on the tire assembly line. He later was a shift manager at a Firestone retread plant in upstate New York. In 1967, Firestone moved him to Hialeah, Fla., to manage a company retail store.
In 1971, he started his own business, Banner Tire of 36 Street, which was a franchise of Banner Tire in St. Louis, Mo. In 1973, he founded TCM International Inc., a large exporter to Latin America and the Caribbean, and eventually grew TCM's presence in South Florida, with a wholesale distribution operation and 13 TCM Tire Centers.
His business interests extended beyond the tire business, including real estate and construction. And in 1982, he founded Alliance National Bank. His sons, Tony and Joaquin Jr., went on to found Tire Group International LLC in 1992. The brothers say TGI is "the nation's largest Hispanic tire distributor.
"Tony’s entrepreneurial spirit not only shaped thriving businesses, but also contributed to the economic landscape of Miami, which was taking shape as a growing metropolis during the 1980s. He had a commitment to service that was exemplified by his tireless dedication to community."
Gonzalez is survived by his three children, Georgina, Joaquin and Tony; his daughters-in-law, Alina and Yesmi; his son-in-law, Adolfo; and his three grandchildren, Joshua, Sophia and Vicente.